Mr. Natural

Tempe ambient musician Slim Golba goes back -- way back -- in search of good vibrations

It's a heady view that Golba realizes doesn't fly too well outside of the hippie circles of the Tempe jam-band scene. "It's a big heavy thing, and I don't talk about it too much with people," he says shyly. "I don't talk about it from the stage."

Nevertheless, Golba feels an almost evangelical calling to spread the sound of the Big Happy Chord to the masses. On the Web site he's developing, justintonation.com, Golba says he's toying with the idea of mimicking Morpheus' invitation in The Matrix. "I'm thinking of something like, 'Click the red button to see how deep just intonation goes, and you will never hear music the same way again!'" On stage with his eight-piece band The Overtones, Golba and friends use specially constructed instruments to play reggae-fied pop tunes ranging from the Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling" to Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Indian Reservation" and even KC and the Sunshine Band's "(That's the Way) I Like It," all in perfect JI harmony.

"At first, I was kind of disappointed that no one at our shows was noticing the difference," Golba says. "I mean, you can see that the frets on the guitars are in different places.

Slim Golba plays lullabies for his hospitalized baby girl on a specially tuned Russian harp.
Matt Garcia
Slim Golba plays lullabies for his hospitalized baby girl on a specially tuned Russian harp.

"But then," he adds, with his customary air of acceptance, "I decided that's the way it should be. People shouldn't notice anything unusual about the music. They should just feel happy hearing it. Which they do: I'm always approached by people saying, 'I don't know what it is about your music, but it just feels good.'"

Golba smiles. "That's when I know they're getting it. That's it!"

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